IAEA Chief tells General Assembly 52 Nations Have Yet to Act; Concern Expressed Over Situations in Iraq, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
The number of States which had not yet concluded safeguards agreements with the Organization was a matter of concern, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohammed Elbaradei, told the General Assembly this morning, as he urged the 52 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) States who had not done so to bring such agreements into force without delay.
As the Assembly met to consider the annual report of the Agency, he stressed that the full potential of a strengthened safeguards system could be realized only through universal adherence to the Additional Protocol and on all relevant safeguards agreements being in force.
On the issue of the Agency’s monitoring and verification program in Iraq, he said assurances regarding that country’s compliance with its obligations under the Security Council Resolution could not be provided. He emphasized, however, that the IAEA was ready to resume its activities in Iraq at short notice.
The situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also was unchanged, he noted. The Agency had been unable to verify that all nuclear material subject to safeguards had been declared. However, it continued to monitor the freeze on the country’s graphite-moderated reactors and related facilities, as requested by the Security Council. Nevertheless, he said, cooperation was still limited. Twelve rounds of technical discussions had not resulted in any progress on important issues such as preservation of relevant information which would enable the Agency to verify that country’s inventory of nuclear material subject to safeguards.
Introducing a draft resolution on the report of the IAEA, Brazil's representative said due attention was given to strengthening the effectiveness and improving the efficiency of safeguard systems, in order to detect undeclared nuclear activities. The draft expressed concern about the continuing non-compliance of the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea with the safeguards agreement with the Agency and called upon that country to fully comply with that agreement. It also stressed the need for Iraq to fully implement all Security Council resolutions and asked that country to allow immediate resumption of the Agency's activities. He suggested postponing action on the text to allow for a few pending issues to be resolved.
Egypt's representative noted that despite the Agency’s efforts, there was still a nuclear programme being carried out just outside Egypt’s borders. He said Progress in the Middle East with regard to ensuring the peaceful use of nuclear power was extremely urgent, and Israel’s refusal to implement the safeguard system.
The representative of Finland (on behalf of the European Union), said the crucial dialogue on Agency-wide prioritization should be based on an objective assessment of technological and financial aspects, while recognizing the different needs of Member States, and with due regard for the Agency’s statutory responsibilities. The implementation of an integrated safeguards system was also a priority.
The representative of India said the Secretariat had become defensive on matters relating to nuclear power, perhaps influenced by an environment in which support for new nuclear plants had declined as power generation had reached a point of saturation. However, while nuclear power might be stagnating in the developed world, it was growing fast in other parts of the world. That was because it logically met energy needs and addressed global environmental considerations.
Also this morning the Assembly took note of the President's appointment of Malaysia as a member of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country, based on Assembly resolution 53/104 which “endorses the recommendation of the Committee that its membership be increased by four members including one from African, Asian, Eastern European and Latin American and Caribbean States, to be chosen by the President of the Assembly in consultation with regional groups”. On 18 February, the President appointed three members of the Committee from the African, Eastern European and Latin American and Caribbean States. Malaysia's appointment filled the existing vacancy for a member from the Asian States.
The current membership of the Committee is: Bulgaria, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, France, Honduras, Hungary, Iraq, Libya, Malaysia, Mali, Russian Federation, Senegal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
At this morning’s meeting the Assembly decided to defer consideration of the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), and to include it in the provisional agenda of its fifty-fifth session.
General Assembly Plenary - 1b - Press Release GA/9650 46th Meeting (AM) 4 November 1999
Under other matters this morning, the Vice-President, Claude Morel (Seychelles), informed the Assembly that on Wednesday, 10 November, in the morning, the Assembly would take action on a resolution on the “implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development” (Copenhagen, Denmark, 1995). It would also take action on a draft pertaining to the “follow-up to the International Year of Older Persons” which would be issued next Monday (8 November).
Statements on the report of the IAEA were also made this morning by Mexico, the United States, Lithuania, Cuba, Czech Republic, Japan, Ukraine, South Africa, Myanmar and the Russian Federation.
The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. today to continue its consideration of the annual report of the IAEA.
The General Assembly meets this morning to consider the question on the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), the Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country on the remaining appointment from the Asian States to that committee, and the annual report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
The Report of the Special Committee on the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence of Colonial Countries and Peoples (document A/54/23 (Part II)) contains a draft resolution on the Question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).
By the terms of the resolution, the Special Committee would reiterate that the way to end the special and particular colonial situation on the question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) was through a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the dispute over sovereignty between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom. It would regret that, in spite of widespread international support for a negotiation between the two parties, the implementation of Assembly resolutions on that question had not yet started.
By other terms of the text, the Special Committee would also request the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom to consolidate the current process of dialogue and cooperation through the resumption of negotiations in order to find, as soon as possible, a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute relating to the question.
Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency
The Assembly also had before it this morning the annual report of the IAEA (GC(43)/4) and a related draft resolution. The yearly review notes global developments in 1998 relevant to the safe and peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Transmitted by a note of the Secretary-General (document A/54/215), the report of states that during the reporting period, the international dimension of nuclear safety became increasingly recognized, while the need for sustainable development continued to be a priority. There was increased urgency for electrical generation without the emission of environmental pollutants, especially greenhouse gases, and heightened importance place on a worldwide, strengthened non- proliferation regime. The IAEA, therefore, took steps to meet the changing needs and interests of its Member States.
Addressing developments in the Agency, the reports says that a comprehensive three-level review process covering the aspects of the Agency's management and programme was introduced in early 1998. The first level consisted of measures to improve efficiency in three areas: policy and coordination; programme development and evaluation, and procedures and personnel. In January, a senior Management Conference was held which resulted in an action plan for better management. Many of the initiatives were implemented by the end of the year.
In parallel with the internal management reforms, the report continues, an external review by a Senior Expert Group was initiated to conduct an in-depth review of the programme activities of the Agency in light of new developments and challenges. In addition to reviewing four of the IAEA's major programmes, the Group considered and made recommendations on the Agency's objectives, inter- programme relations and synergies, and the programme management process. The third part of the reform process was a review of the role and management of public information and the Agency's outreach to civil society, particularly the nuclear, arms control and development communities and the media, using the most modern and effective tools.
According to the report, the quality and quantity of water continued to be a critical global issue and there was thus growing interest in the nuclear technology of desalination. The Agency assisted in a number of desalination projects in Morocco, the Republic of Korea, India and Argentina. The report highlights the issue of Africa’s water resources, stating that a number of countries were facing a crucial shortage of fresh water that not only threatened public health, but also impeded socio-economic development. That situation had prompted the United Nations to include water among the set of priorities of the “System-wide Initiative on Africa”, with the IAEA contributing to the Initiative with two large technical cooperation Model Projects on assessment and management of water resources.
On the issues of food and health, the Agency, in conjunction with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), established a Training and Reference Centre to strengthen the analytical capacities of Member States in meeting the requirements for implementing international standards and agreements on food quality and safety. Member countries also agreed to extend the mandate of the International Consultative Group on Food Irradiation, which expired in May 1999, for another three years.
Turning to health, the report notes that in nuclear medicine, activities dealing with infectious diseases had been expanded, as were the efforts to encourage the use of radioisotopes in molecular biology. New treatment methods in radiation therapy for cancer were also validated. The Agency had given greater priority to cancer treatment using radio therapy, after figures showed that the proportion of deaths in Africa due to the disease rose by 9 per cent in 1998. Some 18 national and regional training courses targeting radiation oncologists, technologists operating machines and nurses caring for brachy therapy patients were held, in order to improve clinical experience. In addition, regional projects, particularly in Africa, resulted in a significant upgrading of equipment used in cancer control.
On the subject of nuclear energy, the report states that it continued to contribute about 16 per cent to the overall world electricity consumption, adding that if the nuclear-generated energy had been provided by the current mix of fossil fuels, the related carbon emissions would have increased by some 8 per cent. According to data received by the Agency, there were 434 nuclear power plants in operation around the world at the end of 1998 and the largest contributor to the world’s nuclear capacity was the United States. Lithuania continued to be the country with the highest contribution of nuclear power to national electricity production, while the new Government in Germany stated that the use of nuclear power would be stopped and issued invitations for talks concerning a new energy consensus.
According to the report, in Turkey, bids by three international consortiums for the first nuclear power plant were being evaluated, while in Asia, plans for nuclear power expansion particularly in China, India, Japan and the Republic of Korea, continued. Assistance was provided by the Agency to Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Lithuania, Republic of Moldova and Viet Nam to assess the role of nuclear power in the future expansion of the electrical supply systems. An international seminar entitled “Nuclear Power in Developing Countries: Its Potential Role and Strategies for its Deployment”, was organized by the Agency to explore the role of nuclear power in meeting the growing demand for electricity in the developing world, while conforming to the objectives of sustainable development.
Safety issues in the use of nuclear energy and technology were dealt with at an Agency conference in Vienna last November, states the report. The conference provided an opportunity for representatives of governmental bodies, utilities, industry and research organizations to exchange information on the latest technologies and policies for spent fuel storage. An important part of the global safety agenda was the Convention on Nuclear Safety, to which 49 States had become parties, while 37 countries had signed the Joint Convention on Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, though only five had ratified it. In addition, a review of the Agency’s document “The Physical Protection of Nuclear Material” resulted in recommendations to improve the structure and clarity of the document to take into account improved technology and current practices.
The report notes that a number of States and non-governmental organizations continued to voice concerns about the international transporting of spent fuel and radioactive waste. A resolution adopted by the Agency’s general conference invited countries shipping radioactive materials to provide assurances to potentially affected States upon their request and to provide them with relevant information relating to shipment of radioactive materials. The development of the Nuclear Safety Standards (NUSS) focused on revision and elaboration in the areas of siting, design and operation of nuclear power plants and research reactors in Member States. The report also highlights that the concept of a multinational repository for radioactive waste was under discussion in the waste management community. Such a concept, however, involved a number of political and public acceptance issues and realization would therefore require consensus among the countries and regions concerned.
On the question of the verification of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the Agency continued its development and implementation of measures to strengthen its safeguards system, the report goes on to say. Signatories to Protocols Additional to Safeguards Agreements increased from six to 35 in 1998. Under the new Protocol adopted in 1997, inspector access would be broader than before.
The report underscores that the Agency faced challenges with regard to mandates in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iraq. It was unable to verify the correctness and completeness of the initial declaration of nuclear material made by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Iraq. The implementation of the Agency’s ongoing monitoring and verification plan faced particular difficulties during the year. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea remained non-compliant with its safeguards agreement, while in Iraq, the Agency remained unable to implement its mandate and as a consequence to provide any assurance that the country was in compliance with its obligations.
An accompanying draft resolution on the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency, (document A/54/L.21) would have the Assembly take note of the adoption by the General Conference of the Agency of resolution GC(43)/RES/19 on the amendment of Article VI of the statute, as well as the accompanying statement by the President of the Conference’s forty-third regular session, relating to the expansion of the membership of the Agency’s Board of Governors from 35 to 43. That follows the allocation of each Member State to one of the areas listed in the article and recalls that the report by the Board of Governors includes criteria and indicators to be used as guidelines in designating its members.
The Assembly would urge that all States strive for effective and harmonious international cooperation in carrying out the Agency’s work, pursuant to its statute, in promoting use of nuclear energy and the application of necessary measures to further strengthen the safety of nuclear installations, strengthen technical assistance and cooperation for developing countries and ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the Agency’s safeguards system.
By terms of the draft, the Assembly would also welcome the entry into force of the Convention on Nuclear Safety and would appeal to all States to become parties to the Convention. The Assembly also expresses satisfaction at the outcome of the first review of the contracting parties to the Convention, held in April this year, and looks forward to the report of the second review meeting, in expectation of safety improvements, particularly in all areas where the first meeting found there was room for improvement.
Statement by IAEA Director-General
MOHAMMED EL BARADEI, Director-General of the IAEA, said the number of States that had not concluded safeguards agreements with the organization remained a matter of concern. In the past year the Agency had continued to remind States of their obligation. He urged the 52 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) States without safeguards agreements to bring such agreements into force without delay. The full potential of a strengthened safeguards system could only be realized through universal adherence to the additional protocol and on all relevant safeguards agreements being in force.
States had consistently stressed the importance of strengthened safeguards, he continued, but the total number of additional protocols so far had fallen far short of expectations. He said that the Agency had implemented a programme to assist Member States in establishing and maintaining systems to protect nuclear material from being used unlawfully and an expert meeting was planned for later this month to discuss the possibility of strengthening the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.
On the issue of the Agency’s monitoring and verification program in Iraq, he said it could not provide any assurances regarding that country’s compliance with its obligations under the Security Council resolution. He emphasized, however, that the IAEA was ready to resume its activities in Iraq at short notice.
The situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea also remained unchanged, he continued. The Agency had been unable to verify that all nuclear material subject to safeguards had been declared. It, however, continued to monitor the “freeze” on the Democratic People's Republic graphite-moderated reactors and related facilities, as requested by the Security Council. But, the level of cooperation was still limited. Twelve rounds of technical discussions, had not resulted in any progress on important issues, such as preservation of relevant information that would enable the Agency to verify the Democratic People's Republic's inventory of nuclear material subject to safeguards.
The Agency’s safeguards system, he said, was only part of the overall non- proliferation regime. Other mutually reinfacing elements must also be at work, such as effective export control, adequate physical protection of nuclear material and facilities, accelerated steps towards disarmament and a functioning arrangement for global and regional security.
He said that one of the new opportunities facing the Agency was the area of nuclear arms control. In that regard, it had continued to work with the United States and the Russian Federation on a joint initiative that focused on verifying that fissile material removed from weapons programme of the two States remained in non-military activities. Verification in the area of nuclear arms control and reduction would pose a challenge for the Agency, in terms of resource requirements. To that end, he said that he had presented the Agency’s Board of Governors with options for financing that work, stressing that whatever financial arrangements were agreed upon should ensure reliability and predictability of funding.
With regard to nuclear power, he said that there was a need to meet increasing demands, particularly for electricity, and a need to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, as agreed under the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Nuclear power should be regarded as one of the few options that could provide large-scale electricity generation without greenhouse gas emissions and more and more States had realized that in the past year. States, however, should be able to make their decisions on different energy options based on up to date and complete information and with the benefit of technical expertise. He noted that nuclear power was at a standstill in Western Europe and North America, though it continued to expand in a few rapidly developing countries.
Turning to nuclear safety, he said that continuous effort was required to ensure that the technical and human requirements of a safety culture were maintained at the highest level. Although safety was a national responsibility, international cooperation on all safety- related matters was indispensable, he added.
He ended by saying that the Agency’s General Conference this year had reached agreement on the expansion of its Board of Governors from 35 to 45 Member States, in order to take into account the increase number of developing countries in the Agency’s membership.
Introduction of Draft
GELSON FONSECA (Brazil), introducing the draft resolution on the report of the IAEA (document A/54/L.21), said the text mirrored the most important issues raised in the report, as well as the relevant resolutions adopted -- all by consensus -- by the forty-third IAEA General Conference. The text focused on a crucial element of the non-proliferation regime, safeguard agreements, and their direct bearing on verification and confidence-building. Due attention was given to the imperative of strengthening the effectiveness and improving the efficiency of safeguard systems, with a view to detecting undeclared nuclear activities. Over the years, increasing priority was being given to nuclear safety. The text expressed deep concern about the continuing non-compliance of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea with the safeguards agreement between the Agency and called upon that country to fully comply with that agreement.
Regarding Iraq, he said the draft stressed the need for the full implementation of all Security Council resolutions and asked that country to allow immediate resumption of the Agency's activities. He said that due to continued consultations on a specific part of the text, however, the draft was not yet ready for adoption. He therefore suggested postponing action to allow for few pending issues to be resolved among interested delegations. He informed the Assembly that Finland, Slovakia and Bosnia and Herzegovina had also joined as co-sponsors of the text.
MARJATTA RASI (Finland), speaking on behalf of the European Union and the associated countries of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Liechtenstein and Norway, said that the dialogue on Agency-wide priorities, notably in the Board of Governors, was crucial. Such a dialogue should be based on an objective assessment of technological and financial aspects, while recognizing the different needs of the various Member States and with due regard for the Agency’s statutory responsibilities. The result must be a strategy that clearly set out the priority areas, laid down appropriate success criteria and established criteria for phasing out certain outdated or low priority activities.
The implementation of an integrated safeguards system was a matter of the highest priority, she stressed. However, the introduction of new measures should not simply be regarded as an addition to existing measures. The two systems must be properly integrated to make optimal use of all possible synergies, leading to make effective use of resources and inspection effort. The Union remained seriously concerned about implementation of safeguards on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Despite Agency efforts, no progress had been made since 1994. She strongly urged full compliance by the Democratic People's Republic. Further, the monitoring and verification activities of the Agency in Iraq must be re- established without delay.
She called on the IAEA to emphasize that safety aspects must be taken into account at an early stage in the design of any nuclear facility. While the responsibility for the safe design, construction and operation of a nuclear installation rested with the State having jurisdiction over such an installation, international cooperation was needed to ensure that internationally acceptable levels of nuclear safety were in place everywhere. In that regard, the Union was playing special attention to nuclear safety in the ongoing enlargement process of the Union.
She said that the technical assistance provided by the Agency should be fully matched to national development programmes, and that it was primarily the responsibility of the recipient State to ensure that that was so. Further, the primary tool for combating illicit trafficking in nuclear materials is the physical protection of such materials, the responsibility for which remained entirely with individual States. Also, it was particularly important that the fissile material designated by any nuclear-weapon State as no longer required for defence purposes be placed under an appropriate system of safeguards under the IAEA. It was, therefore, important to devote more consideration to the options for financing those new verification arrangements.
GUSTAVO ALBIN (Mexico) said he hoped for the continuation of the excellent cooperation between the United States, the Russian Federation and IAEA with regard to nuclear material verification, so that that such materials would not be used as nuclear weapons. Nuclear safety, radiology and radioactive waste safety had become important not only to protect life, health and the environment, but to provide guarantees to humanity that nuclear energy options were based on safe practices. He supported the implementation of recommendations from the first meeting of the parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety in April, to improve procedures for the safe management of nuclear material and equipment. He stressed the importance of the IAEA initiative to create regional centres for the dissemination of horizontal cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean. That would help to channel various initiatives and projects of the Agency into the consultations of the member States of the region.
CLAUDE MOREL (Seychelles), Vice-President of the Assembly, reminded Member States about the importance of punctuality and urged all delegations to cooperate in that regard, so that all meetings could start promptly. He reiterated the issue raised earlier in the session that $800, 000 could be lost due to tardiness.
NORMAN A. WULF (United States) said that among the most remarkable of technical developments that had characterized the past 100 years had been the harnessing of nuclear technology for an almost endless variety of peaceful applications. The ability of the international community to pursue that goal successfully could be attributed to the work of the IAEA. Through its unique system of international safeguards, the Agency had facilitated worldwide peaceful nuclear cooperation by providing critical assurance that nuclear materials and technology were not being misused for non-peaceful purposes.
The new approach used by the Agency’s Technical Cooperation Department had increased efficiency in implementing its programme of work, he continued. Elements of an improved programme, including model project criteria and country programme frameworks, would be more central to progress in the 2001 to 2002 programme of the IAEA. The diverse projects undertaken in the Department’s work provided better understanding internationally of how nuclear-related activities could be used to help solve difficult problems in human health, the environment, agriculture and industry.
He outlined several of the areas of cooperation that the IAEA was pursuing with its member states, including its leadership in assisting States in dealing with the Y2K computer problem, and noted the progress that had been achieved in defining and implementing its safeguards system. That system currently performed the essential function of verifying compliance with comprehensive safeguards agreements under the NPT and other nuclear non-proliferation treaties, he said.
He underscored his country’s deep concern over Iraq’s failure to comply with relevant Security Council obligations. It had been almost a year since the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and the IAEA had conducted inspections in that country and it had continued to reject their resumption. The Agency could not provide any assurance with regard to its obligations. Iraq had flagrantly ignored those commitments, which served as a grim reminder of the potential for a State to misuse nuclear material for non-peaceful purposes. The United States was also concerned about the Agency’s inability to verify the correctness and completeness of the initial declaration of nuclear material made by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and hoped that country would recognize the importance of cooperation with the IAEA.
OSKARAS JUSYS (Lithuania) stated that for years, Lithuania had the highest nuclear-energy production in the world. A single plant in northeast Lithuania had accounted for national output. Its safety had therefore been a priority. Nuclear facilities in the country were fully transparent, which was the best tool for ensuring safety. By the time Lithuania’s independence became a fact, the environmental concerns its people felt during the years of outside occupation had resulted in political change. However, contention surrounding that environmentally vulnerable country’s nuclear-power plant arose from a broader rethinking of Lithuania’s energy strategy, based on the need for European integration rather than the environmental or safety concerns of the Lithuanian people.
His Government acknowledged that its reactors would age until they would have to be stopped forever, he said. Therefore, it had scheduled the first reactor of the Ignalina plant to be shut down by 2005. The agreement on early closure was reached in negotiations between the European Commission and the Government. Decommissioning the plant would require more than the State’s annual budget. An international donors conference had accordingly been scheduled for the beginning of 2000 in Vilnius.
He noted that his Government’s expectations about the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Band Treaty (CTBT) had not corresponded with the reality. Also, a general hope still lingered in Lithuanian that tests in India and Pakistan last year would be the last nuclear-weapons explosions in human history. For that hope to be realized, precautions needed to be taken against attempts to develop new nuclear weapons. It was regrettable and dangerous that several States remained outside the NPT regime and IAEA safeguards. Equally worrisome was the persistent non-compliance with the NPT by some of its States Parties.
RAFAEL DAUSA CESPEDES (Cuba) said that the efforts of the IAEA in terms of technical assistance, cooperation, safeguards and nuclear safety were viewed very positively by his country. Nuclear energy was a potentially valuable answer to the energy needs of the international community. Experience had shown how much could be done with a rational use of nuclear technology. However, some developed countries were trying to cut programmes of technical assistance and diminishing their contribution to the Agency. Developed States had the responsibility to contribute to a real transfer of technology, in a way accessible to all countries. Cuba had derived benefits from its cooperation with the Agency, particularly in the field of health and agriculture.
He said the technical assistance aspect of the IAEA’s activities had not produced so many benefits as the nuclear safeguards aspect, which implied a notable imbalance in the Agency’s different sectors. And while its efforts regarding safeguards were gathering strength, the fact remained that the fragility of the current nuclear non-proliferation regime could only be corrected through the complete elimination of nuclear arms. Despite the fact that Cuba was not a party to the NPT, the country had taken concrete steps to emphasize its commitment to peace and disarmament.
He reiterated his denunciation of actions conducted by a Member State of the United Nations to boycott Cuba’s the nuclear programme and its technical cooperation with the Agency. The economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba had been an obstacle to the transfer of nuclear technology to the island. In that regard, the Helms-Burton Bill of 1999 ran counter to the principles of the IAEA, and should therefore be repudiated by the international community.
The draft resolution was controversial, he said and should only reflect issues requiring the support of all Member States. JAN KARA (Czech Republic) said that as part of its commitments to the NPT, his country had been applying a strict licensing regime for the export and import of all items subject to control in the use of nuclear materials and energy. Nuclear power engineering constituted an important part of the country’s programme for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. His Government thought that using nuclear power might have some positive environmental effects, and might help to preserve limited fossil-fuel resources for future generations. The Government also understood that a necessary prerequisite for its use was the achievement of the highest level of nuclear safety and radiation protection. In that light, the Government had completed a fundamental reform of the legislative and regulatory framework during the past year.
On the international front, he noted that the Czech Republic had also adopted a sensitive approach to nuclear safety and radiation protection. An example was its recent use of the Nuclear Safety Convention to provide information on compliance with nuclear safety and radiation protection requirements in the territory’s nuclear power plants. Also, the use of nuclear energy and ionizing radiation, and their development in the Czech Republic had long been linked with international cooperation and technical assistance programmes. He added that the country had been both a recipient and a donor within the framework of the IAEA’s programme.
RYUICHIRO YAMAZAKI (Japan) welcomed the recent accession of Honduras and Angola to membership in the IAEA. The increasing role of the Agency in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, in the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and in safeguard systems were vital contributions.
Turning to the plutonium issue, he said that the element in question should not be recycled for military purposes. He called upon the United States and the Russian Federation to allow the Agency to monitor its use. Regarding the accident which had occurred at a fuel conversion plant on 30 September in Tokaimura, in Japan, he said that his country was dedicated to safe use of nuclear energy, and expressed his gratitude for the concerns expressed by governments and the international community. Safety was an indispensable prerequisite in the use of atomic energy. A team of IAEA experts had been sent to the region of the accident. The situation, however, was now under control. Radiation levels had been normal. Agricultural products and the environment were completely safe. The accident investigation committee was expected to submit its report on the cause of the accident by the end of the year.
ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said the implementation of a nuclear agreement, with the aim of safeguarding the welfare of humankind and providing a safe world free of nuclear risks and environmental threats, should be a top priority for the international community.
He stressed the importance of the IAEA safeguard system. Despite the Agency’s efforts, however, there was still a nuclear program being carried out just outside Egypt’s borders; this was a matter of grave concern. There was an urgent need for progress in the Middle East with regard to ensuring the peaceful use of nuclear power. Israel’s refusal to implement the safeguard system threatened the region as a whole.
He called for the establishment of the Middle East as an area free of weapons of mass destruction. All Arab countries in the region had cooperated with the safeguards system but Israel still refused to comply and had yet to declare its intention to adhere to the NPT. It was the responsibility of all States to adhere to the NPT without exception.
Egypt attached great importance to the NPT and to the Agency’s technical cooperation activities he continued. It appealed to all States to give the Technical Cooperation Fund the importance it deserved. Its activities were crucial in opening new doors for economic development.
YURIY POLUREZ (Ukraine) said that, recognizing the importance of the safeguards system of the IAEA as an integral element of the non-proliferation regime, his country had ratified the Agency’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement. The common goal should be to apply the strengthened safeguards in all States. Upon completion of consultations with the Agency and bringing internal procedures into line, Ukraine intended to sign the Model Additional Protocol. It supported the safeguards measures the IAEA had been undertaking, including its implementation of the Agreement with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and of the relevant Security Council resolutions on Iraq.
The safety of the Chernobyl plant continued to remain at the centre of his Government’s attention, he said. Of particular concern was the delay in putting compensatory power units into operation to enable the decommissioning of the plant as agreed under the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 1995 between the Group of Seven industrialized countries (G7), the European Commission and Ukraine. He stressed that the final goals of the Memorandum would only be achieved if the European Commission and the G7 took appropriate emergency steps to secure the necessary financial resources. Otherwise, there would be a negative reaction, in the Ukraine and in other States, which would adversely effect the cause of safe use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. He appreciated the decisions of the Pledging Conference held two years ago; they had given strong impetus to practical steps aimed at fulfilment of the Memorandum.
GEORGE NENE (South Africa) said his country strongly supported the IAEA safeguards verification system. Besides being a mechanism for ensuring that no diversion of nuclear material or equipment was taking place, it was also a measure to build confidence. The conclusion of negotiations on the Model Protocol Additional to the Safeguards Agreements, as a means to strengthen the safeguards system, had been a major milestone for the Agency. Progress on the trilateral initiative between the Russian Federation, the United States and the IAEA on the issue of nuclear material from decommissioned weapons and stockpiles had also been an important development.
He noted that as the safeguards and verification process expanded to more facilities and countries, there would be increased costs. The Agency’s member States should not insist on the notions of zero nominal and zero real growth in its regular budget. As the demand for more resources grew, so would the reliance of the Agency on extra-budgetary funding. That was a dangerous path to follow.
South Africa was fully supportive of the efforts of the IAEA to establish a common, coherent safety philosophy for radiation and nuclear safety, as well as safety of radioactive waste disposal, he said. It attached importance to work that had been done so far in those areas and remained committed to the principles and objectives of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.
VIJAY TIWATHA (India) said the IAEA Secretariat had become defensive on matters relating to nuclear power, perhaps influenced by the area in which it was located, where support for new nuclear plants had declined as power generation in general had reached a point of saturation. However, while nuclear power might be stagnating in Europe and North America, it was growing fast in Asia and other parts of the world. It was a logical option to meet energy needs in the context of global environmental considerations. Current global carbon dioxide emissions would have been eight per cent higher if nuclear power had not been used. He called upon the IAEA to intensify its efforts in projecting nuclear energy as one of the means of mitigating carbon dioxide emissions under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) evolved under the Kyoto Protocol of the Convention on Climate Change. For Indians to reach a standard of living comparable to that of developed countries, it was estimated that their per capita consumption of electricity must increase by a factor of at least eight to 10.
Nuclear energy, he continued, would therefore account for an increasing share of the electricity mix in his country. As a first step, India would try to reach 20,000 MW(e) of nuclear power by the year 2020. Recent developments abroad had shown that it should continue to attach the highest importance to nuclear safety. Its facilities were stringently monitored by the national Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. It was also now considering acceding to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials. Halting the clandestine acquisition of sensitive technology required the total commitment of all the member States of the IAEA. Whenever that particular commitment had faltered, there had been lapses. India's non-proliferation credentials were impeccable. There were export mechanisms that ensured that no material, equipment or technology exported from the country had been misused. “However, while our commitment to genuine non-proliferation is consistent, we object to discriminatory restrictions on access to materials and technology for peaceful purposes, under the guise of proliferation concerns.”
He said that, while India regarded nuclear power generation as a priority, non-power applications of nuclear energy in areas such as medicine, isotope hydrology, agriculture and industry were given equal importance in research and development programmes. As the Agency prepared to meet the challenges of the coming century, it should remain faithful to its original mandate as the promoter of the peaceful uses of atomic energy. Over the years, the changed orientation of the IAEA had led to a worrisome situation. Rather than being a positive creative force, it was in danger of being looked upon as a police body. The Agency must appreciate its unique position as the only international organization with the mandate to promote the widest possible participation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The recent scientific forum on “Sustainable Development: A Role for Nuclear Power” had helped to restore, in some measure, the original scientific character of the Agency.
U KYAR NYO CHIT PE (Myanmar) said that the IAEA was now covering areas ranging from power generation to a diverse array of industrial, medical and agricultural applications. Its activities concerning food and agriculture constituted a practical application of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in areas of particular importance to developing countries. An expansion of technical cooperation activities relating to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy should take into account the special needs of those countries.
After reviewing Myanmar’s cooperation with the Agency, he commended the collaboration between the IAEA and other United Nations agencies in the area of water resources development and management. The radiation safety program undertaken by the Agency was of paramount importance. He drew particular attention to the completion of three safety guides on occupational radiation protection as a remarkable achievement.
He stressed that all IAEA safeguards and verification measures should be applied in a non-discriminatory manner and in conformity with the relevant provisions of the NPT.
G.M.GATILOV (Russian Federation) said his country would like to see the IAEA as an international organization with a strong reputation for actively promoting the development of peaceful uses of atomic energy and exercising the verification activities that were key elements of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. He stressed its opposition to any attempts to revise the NPT and called on countries to recognize their responsibility to strengthen the mechanisms that had effectively prevented the spread of nuclear weapons all over the world.
He said that it should now be accepted that the only realistic industrial-scale solution to the problem of power sources was to intensify efforts to develop a safe, environmentally acceptable and economically attractive nuclear power sector. He believed that the nuclear power industry would be able to meet this challenge in the future.
The Agency’s technical assistance to developing countries in the implementation of priority programmes in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy was extremely important, he continued. Despite his country’s current economic difficulties, it had participated in the programmes by providing equipment and conducting training courses and fieldwork for experts from these countries. Concluding, he said that the future of the nuclear power industry must be based on the reliable operation of currently functioning nuclear facilities; he therefore reiterated his Government’s support for the Agency’s activities.
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